Living with PTSD One Day at a Time – a book review

If combat or abuse of any kind, mental or physical, has traumatized you, I’m suggesting you read this memoir, even if it is the only one you real in your life. If you hate to read, then listen to the audiobook. Geeze, no excuses! You may also want to read this memoir if you know someone with PTSD. Then, you may understand what life is like for them.

At first, I was going to title this review Traumatized in Nairobi. After I was halfway through Meyli Chapin’s memoir Terrorist Attack Girl, I have done little but think of what I’d write in this review. I woke up thinking about it. I thought about her story while exercising. And I think about it before I sleep and when I’m sleeping. The only time I didn’t think about it was when I was reading.

While reading her memoir, I virtually joined Meyli in her hotel room in Nairobi. Apparently, I wasn’t there, but my mind didn’t know that.

Her terror and fear became my terror and fear. When she talked about not wanting her little brother to know what was happening to her, that terrorists might murder her, I cried and laughed. When the two guys that probably were Navy Seals knocked on her door 17 hours into the attack on that hotel, I laughed again.

Meyli divided her story between brief scenes in the hotel room (regular print) and scenes taking place after the attack (ATA): in the US Consulate in Kenya and back in the states (italicized print). I think this was a stroke of genius, sharing the trauma of that terrorist attack and what happened to her later when she thought the nightmare was over, often on the same page. And every ATA scene mirrors what I’ve experienced with fucking PTSD in the last 55 years, helping me make sense of what happened to me back then.

To survive ATA, Meyli is learning, as I did, how to manage her PTSD so it doesn’t eat her, and I suspect she may learn to live one day at a time, too, if she hasn’t already.

Terrorist Attack Girl

Meyli, back in the 1970s after I graduated college with a BA in journalism, I was still drinking heavily. One afternoon, I sat on the floor in my living room with the barrel of a loaded sniper rifle in my mouth, ready to pull the trigger to end it all. I did not know what fucking PTSD was and what was happening to me. It was a desperate attempt to get rid of that never ending nightmare.

I snipped off the safety getting ready to fire and looked out the screen door one last time to see a teenager wearing headsets dancing as he moved down the sidewalk. That image stopped me from squeezing the trigger.

I thought, Dear God, if I do this, I might miss that kind of happy moment. So, instead, I learned to live one day at a time and bless each day as I turned off the lights, only to thank God when I woke up to a new dawn to live another one. Thanks to that dancing teen on that sidewalk, I have experienced many great days with laughter in them. The drinking didn’t help. In fact, the booze made the fucking PTSD worse, so I stopped in 1982, and became a vegan. Also, I now belong to two PTSD support groups that Meetup each week, through the VA.

As a former US Marine and combat veteran living with fucking PTSD since 1966, I could easily have written a book about Chapin’s memoir, but I did not want to turn this review into a story about me. The fucking PTSD still lurks waiting to pounce if triggered, along with the loaded pump shotgun I keep by my bed. Without that weapon, I touch each night before I turn out the lights. I couldn’t sleep. As it is, I think this review may be too long.

Meyli’s memoir taught me that the fucking PTSD I’ve lived with for so long isn’t my fault. That revelation lifted a heavy burden weighted by guilt off my mind. Somehow, I feel lighter, almost floating through each day.

But I’m still living one day at a time. Thank you for sharing that slice of your life with the world, Meyli.

NOTE: Amazon rejected this review the first time I submitted it, because I used the word fucking one time as an adjective describing what that acronym means to me. Once I removed that word, Amazon accepted the review without any other changes.

As you may have noticed here on my Blog, I added more fucking PTSDs to make up for that example of legal corporate censorship by an app programed to reject the use of certain words.

What if the U.S. Had Not Invaded Iraq? A Counterfactual Surmise

This post is about the wrong choices a U.S.President and Congress made soon after 9/11 – the invasion of Iraq.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Washington Post published a remorseful article about the negative effects of 20 years of was in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hindsight is sometimes useful. Many books will be written about “lessons learned” from these past 20 years of warfare.

There’s a scene in the 2014 film “American Sniper” that sums up the country’s post-9/11 war lust. Chris Kyle, the late U.S. Navy SEAL played by Bradley Cooper, watches a newscast of the twin towers crumbling before his eyes. The camera fixes on Kyle’s steely yet stunned face as he holds his shaken wife, before cutting to an image of him in full military gear, glaring through the scope of his sniper rifle in the middle of an Iraqi town. (He goes on to gun down a woman aiding Iraqi insurgents.)

The film, which some critics panned as proto-fascist agitprop, spends no time interrogating this implied connection between the events…

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The End of the Forever War, leaving Afghanistan in 2021

I’m a former U.S. Marine and was sent to Vietnam in late 1965. I returned home to the states in December 1966.

At the end of the Vietnam War, according to History.com, about 7,000 people were evacuated by helicopter from various points in Saigon. And “Inside the South Vietnamese capital, U.S. ambassador Graham Martin rebuffed repeated calls to even consider an evacuation, let alone execute one.” In 1973, the president was a Republican. His name was Richard Nixon, and he was a much better human, regardless of his flaws, than Traitor Trump will ever be.

Before anyone climbs on the blame Biden wagon for what happened at the end of the Forever War in Afghanistan, click that History.com link above and read about the end of the Vietnam War. While reading, don’t forget that I was sent to fight in that war when I was 20. What happened over there changed my life.

Because of those changes, I don’t think like most Americans that never served in the military let alone fought in one of this country’s endless wars.

Pew Research reports, “There are around 19 million U.S. veterans as of this year, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, representing less than 10% of the total U.S. adult population.”

And not all of those veterans served in combat. Combat Wounded.org clarifies the number of combat vets vs veterans that did not end up in combat. “There are more than 2.5 million post 9/11 military veterans that have served our nation, which is less than 1% of the population. 80 percent of those spent some time in an overseas combat zone. Over 2 million served in Afghanistan and Iraq, spending 1 out of 3 years serving overseas. 60% are under the age of 34.”

Because of my experiences in Vietnam, I belong to two PTSD support groups. One through the VA and the other at a Vet Center, and I have never met one single combat vet that doesn’t think more like me and what I’m going to say in this post. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any. I’m sure there are some that will disagree with me.

Reuters reported, “Pulling the numbers from the daily updates shows that more than 100,000 people have been airlifted out of Afghanistan since Aug. 1. The White House refers to this total as the number of people the United States evacuated or whose evacuation it ‘facilitated,’ referring to those nonmilitary flights. The most evacuations happened in the 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning, when 21,600 people were evacuated. In the 24 hours before Thursday morning, the number was 13,400.”

Probably because I’m a former Marine and combat vet, I have been following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning.

It was apparent to me early on that both wars were lost the day they began. The U.S. should have never invaded Iraq. After 9/11, once we knew who was behind the attack in New York, all of our military efforts to stop an attack on the US like that from happening again should have been focused on Afghanistan, not Iraq.

After both countries were invaded, the Bush administration focused on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan became an orphan. From the beginning, almost every decision by U.S. presidents was focused on nation-building in both countries and those efforts failed just like they did in Vietnam.

The American Taliban, Traitor Trump’s dangerous and violent MAGA mob says President Biden blundered and should resign or be impeached.  To all those armchair generals and REMFs, I say, “Bull Shit!” If you want to know what REMF means, Google it, or just click the link and/or watch the video.

Those who have fought in war, like Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who coined the phrase, “War is hell,” know it better than the fools blaming President Biden for not conducting a perfectly organized withdrawal from the Forever War in Afghanistan.

There was never going to be a perfect ending to that war. There has never been a perfect ending to any war. Someone always loses. Own it.

Now, I’m going to make a few comparisons:

Kabul in 2021 was not the same as Saigon in 1973. In Kabul, the US evacuated more than 100,000 people in a little over two weeks. How many did the U.S. evacuate from Saigon? The answer is mentioned earlier in this post.

Kabul in 2021 was not the same as the Kuwait airlift by Air India of 170,000 Indians in 1990. That airlift was carried out before the U.S. started the Gulf War the same year.

Kabul in 2021 was not the same as the U.S. military evacuation of 91,000 people out of a North Korean port by the U.S. Navy in 1950.

Kabul in 2021 was not the same as the Berlin Airlift (supplies not people) in 1948 – 1949, and that happened during the Cold War. I wonder how many people know what the term Cold War means.

It’s so much easier to plan an airlift when no one is shooting at you or threatening to attack if you don’t leave by a certain date.  It’s so much easier to  complain and assign blame when you are a member of Traitor Trump’s American Taliban, an armchair general, or an REMF.

******************

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and combat vet. He’s the author of the award-winning novels My Splendid Concubine, Running with the Enemy, The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova, and the memoir Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé. His short story, A Night at the Well of Purity was named a finalist in the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

His latest novel is The Patriot Oath.

After 24 years, Special Forces legend Josh Kavanagh has retired from the military and is going home. But his oath to the Constitution didn’t end there. His sister Suki wants Josh to help her get revenge. He still loves the tough girl he left behind, but can Rachel trust him?

The Patriot Oath post I should have written 8 days ago.

On August 8, my latest novel, The Patriot Oath, was published and released. The e-book is still on sale for $0.99 until Monday, August 16, ends at midnight.

The Patriot Oath’s launch is the best I have ever experienced.

When My Splendid Concubine came out in December 2007, it only sold 221 copies its first full year in print. However, over the next 13 years, this historical fiction thriller and romantic suspense novel would go on to sell more than 24,000 copies — not counting the 41,243 that were given away free during a Book Bub Promotion in  2015.

Running with the Enemy has been out since December 2013 and has only sold 320 copies.

Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, was published in June 2014 and has only sold 405 copies.

The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova arrived in February 2015 and has only sold 142 copies in its first six years.

What makes this book launch different from the others?

The Patriot Oath has sold more than 290 copies in its first nine days, and the Kindle Countdown Deal doesn’t end until midnight on the 16th.

Here are the first three reviews, the only reviews at this time. The other three are only ratings with no reviews.

 Daniel Pyle

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read

Reviewed in the United States on August 8, 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Great story and unforgettable characters!

wdnleg

4.0 out of 5 stars good book

Reviewed in the United States on August 10, 2021

Verified Purchase

excellent characters, interesting moral ambiguity. sad ending. but one of the best books of its type that i have read in a long time.

 

Joe D

4.0 out of 5 stars I hope this is just the beginning

Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2021

I really enjoyed this book, particularly the characters. I will be disappointed if this not book 1 of a multi-book series.

For Joe D: I’m working on the sequel to The Patriot Oath. The title is Never for Glory and there are 24 chapters completed with more to come.

The Patriot Oath is the first book I’ve written that started from a prompt in a Veteran’s Administration PTSD support group. Writing helps combat vets manage the trauma that followed them home from war. Some groups use music, others rely on horses or dogs, and then yoga and art.

That PTSD writing support group meets once a week. Back in March 2018, in one Wednesday morning session, I didn’t have anything new to share, so I decided to write to one of the prompts (long forgotten) we were offered at the end of every session.

My short piece for that forgotten prompt was about a Special Forces combat vet on his way home after being in the military for 24 years. That’s when Josh was born as the main character. After sharing my first piece with Josh as the main character, I featured him in every weekly prompt. That worked great for about five weeks until Josh, and the other characters in his story took over. At the time, I had no idea what was going to happen to Josh and the others. I didn’t know their stories would turn into a novel with The Patriot Oath as its title.

Fast forward to today, Sunday, August 15, 2021. The Patriot Oath has been featured in an author interview by Many Books., established in 2004. The interview starts here: Lloyd Lofthouse – Thriller and Romantic Suspense Inspired by PTSD. The interview explores the story behind the novel.

If you are a reader, you might want to stop here, but if you are an author, too, keep reading to learn a bit about how I promote my work to find readers that might be interested.

 Many Books is ranked at #24,842 by ALEXA, out of more than 30,000,000 websites and Blogs. Founded in 1996, Alexa is a global pioneer in the world of analytical insight. Alexa’s traffic estimates are based on data from its global traffic panel, a sample of millions of Internet users using one of many different browser extensions. Its global traffic rank measures how a website is doing relative to all other sites on the web over the past 3 months.

You might be curious why I’m mentioning ALEXA and ManyBooks global traffic rank.  When I’m setting up a book promotion, I use ALEXA to determine if the sites I’m using are doing better than most sites on the web. I don’t want to invest my time and money in sites that have little or no traffic. I also promote through BookBub and Amazon. BookBub ranked at 8,511 by ALEXA. Amazon is ranked #11.  As a flexible rule, I usually promote my work through sites ranked less than #500,000.

Underground

Poetry as PTSD therapy continued.

In 1965, three Marines
barely out of high school
invaded a World War II Japanese bunker
hidden in an ancient Okinawa cave

Japs placed their machine guns here
marks on the rock revealed
where napalm scorched
that killing turned American soldiers
into hometown heroes

At the back, that rocky nest twisted
vertical to a horizontal gap
like acrobats, we three twisted like worms
to go deeper underground
crawling through mud
sandwiched between thick slabs of primordial rock    
It was tight in that damp, narrow space
beneath the surface.
we three cockroaches crawled
through that volcanic vice
that an earthly shudder might seal

Okinawa was home
to deadly snakes lurking in dark places
one by one, our WWII issue military flashlights flickered
died
the darkness absolute
there was no dripping water
no echoes
just the sound of ragged breathing surrounded by silence
with no way to discover the way out

Panic was not an option

We three shoved with our feet
and clawed with our hands
there was not enough room to lift our heads
between the slabs of hoary rock
while plowing through muck
surrounded by the starless midnight

A spot of light appeared
signaling an end to our journey
witnessed by the stars and a full moon
we tumbling out of a notch
into the gully outside Camp Hanson,
swearing never to return
to that natural dungeon

We were still young
when we shipped out to
set boots in Vietnam a month later

Buy and/or Read Now

Managing my PTSD started with Poetry

“The term posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has become a household name since its first appearance in 1980 in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-lll) published by the American Psychiatric Association, In the collective mind, this diagnosis is associated with the legacy of the Vietnam War disaster. Earlier conflicts had given birth to terms, such as “soldier’s heart, ” “shell shock,” and “war neurosis.” The latter diagnosis was equivalent to the névrose de guerre and Kriegsneurose of French and German scientific literature. This article describes how the immediate and chronic consequences of psychological trauma made their way into medical literature, and how concepts of diagnosis and treatment evolved over time.”  – US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Then the VA’s National Center for PTSD was created in 1989 by an act of Congress.

Even most of the Hollywood movies that deal with PTSD didn’t start to come out until the 21st century.

What about Life with PTSD?

I didn’t know what was going on about PTSD in the 1980s. I was too busy teaching in a community based public school district 1975 – 2005, often working 60 to 100 hours a week.  If I wasn’t teaching, I was planning lessons, calling parents, and correcting the school work my students turned in.

During those years, the PTSD was still managing my life in devious ways, playing a role in my first two divorces.

Maybe it was a survival mechanism that kicked in that stopped me from drinking too much booze on a daily basis and often being hung over the next day before I started drinking again. I crossed that threshold in 1982, the year I stopped drinking booze of all kinds and drastically changed my lifestyle from fast-food and alcohol to become a vegan.

Thirty-nine years later, I’m still a vegan and haven’t been drunk once.

During that drastic lifestyle transition in 1982 where I lost 60 pounds and turned orange from drinking too much  organic carrot juice, I was working days and earning an MFA in writing nights and summers.

The summer of 1982, I took a poetry workshop and most of the poems I wrote that year explored the  mental and physical damage caused by war.

This post is the first of many. I am going to dust off those decades old poems, update and revise them, and publish them here on my Soulful Veteran Blog.

Chocolate in the Mud by Lloyd Lofthouse

Dark is better
Magic black
Spiritual money
Treat yourself to a truffle
Buy a bon-bon

Discovered in the rain forests
Two thousand years ago
Maya and Aztec royalty
Drank it frothy
Spicy and bitter

Mom baked
Mouth-watering
Chocolate cakes
Along with pecan
Chocolate chip cookies
Heating the savory
Kitchen scented air

Hanging around like a puppy
Scraping the frosting bowl clean
Licking the spatula
Was more fun than playing
Front yard pirates

Rainy days still trigger
Left over memories
Of that long ago kitchen
Bringing desire
A craving for something creamy and dark
Like a chocolate fudge Sunday
Smearing lips with sticky
Lip clinging excellent mud

When I was a U.S. Marine
No longer a child
It rained hundreds of inches in Vietnam.
Slogging in from a recon patrol or ambush
Surviving another day after too many close calls
With mucky fudge clinging to our weapons

That mud was a reminder of younger days
Raised in a country
Where pampered children
May be a protected alien species
Living a fantasy life filled with
Chocolate treats

Today, when some turn eighteen
They join the military like I did
Take the Loyalty Oath
Washington was the first to take
Before shipping out to Iraq and Afghanistan

Will those troops dream of chocolate in the bloody Sand Box?

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran,

retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.

What is Russia doing to get Traitor Trump reelected in 2020?

Lloyd Lofthouse

When I Googled this topic, why were the first two sources VOX and the BBC? Why not the New York Times and other major traditional American news sources? To be fair, the NYT and the Atlantic was mentioned on the first page of the search but they were near the bottom of the page.

VOX is a general interest news site and in 2019, readership was estimated to be 33.4 million visitors to its website, less than 10% of the US population. Vox is an American news and opinion website owned by Vox Media. The website was founded in April 2014 and is noted for its concept of explanatory journalism. Media Bias/Fact Check rates VOX as Mostly Factual for its reporting, a bit lower than the BBC’s rating.

The BBC’s global reach is 468.2 million people a week and it is one of the most trusted news sources in the…

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RAGE! Trump RAGE! Trump RAGE! Trump

Soon, Donald Trump may be responsible for more deaths when his followers start a Civil War to keep him in power.

Lloyd Lofthouse

Have you seen the recent 30 minute documentary about COVID-19 and Trump? The documentary says that 90% of the U.S. deaths from the virus could have been avoided, and Trump is responsible for those deaths.

Here’s the link to American Pathogen, the documentary. I had to stop at 21 minutes because I could feel the RAGE growing inside my chest like and H-bomb ready to explode.

Then there’s “Rage”, the new book by Bob Woodward.

President Trump is defending himself after interviews from a new book by legendary reporter Bob Woodward reveal that Trump acknowledged the deadliness of the coronavirus in early February and admitted in March to playing down its severity.

NPR reports, “This is deadly stuff,” the president told Woodward in a Feb. 7 conversation, according to the book, which is called Rage. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so…

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There is No Return to Normal for the US Economy

The struggle to survive COVID-19 is a war, and any mistakes by President Donald Trump will increase the casualties.

Lloyd Lofthouse

According to a piece published on March 17 by Popular Science, when the COVID-19 Pandemic is over depends on our actions in the United States.

“Nobody knows what the coming months are going to hold. When asked when life might go back to normal by ABC News on March 15, Fauci stated that it will likely be ‘several weeks to a few months.’ So COVID-19 is going to be with us for a while.”

Today, March 25, we are about 7 months from the November 3, 2020 election, and President Trump has been talking about going back to the way it was to save the economy. In fact, since he made that announcement, the average of all the reputable polls, according to Real Clear Politics, Trump’s unpopularity dropped more than half from a minus 8.5% to a minus 3.5% in a couple of days.


This YouTube video is…

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Washington Post Publishes “The Afghanistan Papers,” Showing that Government Lied about “Progress” in the War

For the United States: Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan were all wars fought for profits and not to win. When a war ends, the profits for the weapons industry dry up.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Some of us are old enough to remember the New York Times publication of “The Pentagon Papers,” the secret history of the war in Vietnam compiled by the Department of Defense; they were purloined by Daniel Ellsberg, who opposed the war and shared with the Times. The revelations in those papers helped to end that conflict.

Now the Washington Post is publishing government papers about the long-lasting war in Afghanistan that it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Its revelations are familiar and depressing. Our government lied to us. There were no realistic plans in place for success. Thousands of lives and about a trillion dollars were spent without a strategy.

The article was written by Craig Whitlock. If you want to read the story in full, subscribe to the Washington Post.

KONAR PROVINCE, 2010 (Moises Saman/Magnum Photos)

THE PENTAGON, 2003 (David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

A confidential trove of…

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